Critical Issues in the Post-9/11 World Lesson Plan
- Grades: 9–12
Nancy Barile is a high school teacher with more than 15 years of experience in education and is a frequent contributor to Scholastic.
Students will research and debate the controversial policies enacted by the U.S. government after the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
Critical Issues in the Post-9/11 World is suitable for language arts, journalism, history, and social studies classes.
Students will research, discuss, and debate issues of freedom and security in the post-9/11 world, specifically examining how the U.S. government should balance its duty to protect its citizens with those citizens' civil liberties.
September 11, 2001 was a transformative moment in U.S. history. The 9/11 terrorist attacks caused massive destruction and the loss of more than 3,000 lives, as well as swift and dramatic changes in U.S. attitudes and policies. These changes signified the beginning of a new era in which the threat of terrorism from abroad is a major factor in U.S. politics.
The Upfront magazine article entitled "The 9/11 Dilemma: Freedom vs. Security" is the launch pad for this lesson.
- Examine critical issues of security and freedom that are the result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001
- Understand various arguments about how to respect individual freedoms while protecting the nation as a whole
- Develop arguments in support of or against one of the critical policies that resulted from the events of September 11, 2001
- "The 9/11 Dilemma: Security vs. Freedom" article from Upfront magazine.
1. Have students read the article entitled "The 9/11 Dilemma: Security vs. Freedom" from Upfront magazine.
2. As a class, have students examine the U.S government's history of attempting to protect the rights of individual citizens while protecting the nation as a whole.
Examples to study include the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798, the suspension of habeas corpus under Abraham Lincoln, the Sedition Act of 1918, Japanese-American internment during World War II, and the Patriot Act of 2011.
3. Divide students into three groups. Within each group, have half the students research and present an argument for one of the following issues and the other half research and present an argument against that issue. After research and preparation, each side will have three minutes to present their argument.
After September 11, 2001, the U.S. government instituted several policies and procedures that were controversial because of their potential to undermine civil liberties. The following three issues were among the most contentious:
- Issue one: Should the U.S. government should be able to monitor phone calls and email of people who are suspected of terrorist ties without first obtaining warrants?
- Issue two: Should the suspected terrorists at the Guantánamo prison in Cuba have the right to challenge their detention in court?
- Issue three: Are harsh interrogation techniques such as waterboarding justified if they can help prevent terrorist attacks?
4. Summarize and reflect. Some people propose that poverty, persecution, and marginalization are often the precursors to terrorism; therefore, addressing these issues may be an important means to combat terrorism. On the other hand, some believe that terrorism is perpetrated by fanatics and extremists who cannot be reasoned with or stopped by means other than conflict and war.
What do you think about these perspectives? Do you agree with one or the other? Why?
FOR FURTHER RESEARCH
Have students research a time in the recent past when a nation was faced with a terrorist threat. What did the conflict stem from? Was it resolved? And if it was, how was that resolution accomplished? How is the historical situation similar to and different from the situation faced by the United States today?